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5 Ways To Engage Students In Online Teaching Online learning approach is new for both teachers and students and they are facing challenges in collaborating

By Beas Dev Ralhan

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As learners and educators continue to remain confined to their homes due to COVID-19, schools and educational institutions are finding ways to connect teachers and students so that learning can continue despite the crisis. They are resorting to online classes and e-learning platforms to create a virtual learning environment. However, the online teaching approach is very different from traditional classroom teaching. The classroom setting offers a collaborative and engaging learning environment as students get to interact face-to-face with the teacher and their peers.

Most teachers will agree that student engagement is of utmost importance for a high-quality learning experience. As discussed above, in a classroom setting, students and teachers can easily interact, collaborate and engage in learning activities. At the same time, the online learning approach is new for both teachers and students and hence, they are facing challenges in collaborating via online platforms. To ensure that students don't neglect their studies and stay connected with the teachers and their peers, it is essential for teachers to create an engaging learning environment. This will ensure that students don't get distracted while they are learning online.

Here are a few ways to increase and ensure student engagement in online learning.

Empower students by giving them control of their learning process

Often students feel isolated and unmotivated while studying online. One of the best ways to overcome this is to make students feel valued and place them at the centre of their learning process. Teachers can build a flexible learning environment by giving students the freedom to choose their assignments. For instance, teachers can allow students to pick from a bunch of different topics and various modes of delivery like presentations, infographics, Q&A, etc. This will not only empower students to dive deep into topics but also help develop 21st-century skills.

Another way of making students feel valued is by allowing students to share their thoughts and real-life experiences. This will empower students to express themselves and formulate their own opinions. Further, teachers can also explain concepts through real-life examples to expedite conceptual clarity and improve concept retention.

Provide active learning opportunities

A common misconception about online teaching is that it focuses only on lectures. This is the case only in the case of curriculums that have been planned this way. This not only makes learning monotonous but also limits the critical thinking and creativity of students. Hence, it is important to introduce active learning, where students can explore beyond online lectures and learn through hands-on activities. Teachers can assign activities such as case studies, projects, group activities, gathering and analyzing data relevant to the concepts and within the scope of the syllabus, etc.

Another way of making online teaching-learning collaborative and engaging is by conducting small quizzes during the online lectures. For instance, teachers can add a quiz to check comprehension after covering each main concept in the lecture.

Make learning interactive

Making online lectures interactive is one of the best ways to engage students in topical learning. Teachers can encourage students to study in small groups by creating online groups. Students can interact with each other via chat, video calls and audio calls to discuss the concepts. This will facilitate peer interaction and increase their bonding.

Another popular way of making teaching-learning engaging and interactive is by including guest online lectures by subject matter experts. This will create enthusiasm among students and they are more likely to attend classes regularly. An interactive guest lecture will help students gain insight into various aspects of the subject.

Introduce self-assessment opportunities

If students are not able to track their performance, they may not be able to engage productively. Self-assessments are one of the best ways to empower students to evaluate their own conceptual understanding. Teachers can provide short tests, survey questions and situation-based questions so that students can dive deep and find out their strengths and weaknesses. Students should also be encouraged to have a self-learning plan so that they can work on their weak areas by leveraging various e-learning tools and the teacher's guidance.

Gamify with rewards

There are many ways to add gamification elements to online teaching. It is not necessary to have full-fledged game-based learning, basic elements of gamification also have a great potential in making the teaching-learning process engaging and fun. Teachers can award badges, points or stars to appreciate students' accomplishments. They can make sure to acknowledge every significant step a child takes by giving prizes for top performers, fast learners, quick problem-solvers, etc.

While online education is becoming the new norm, it is important to include effective and time-tested pedagogy to create a perfect blend to promote effective student engagement. Following each of the above-mentioned methods will help teachers and educators to create a learning environment that promotes increased student engagement and long-term learning success.

Beas Dev Ralhan

Co-Founder & CEO - Next Education India Pvt. Ltd.

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